Whoever said fruit doesn’t count as dessert clearly needs to revisit this idea. Berry desserts can be just as satisfying as a piece of chocolate cake, if not better! Using fresh summer berries and healthful swaps, the dessert recipes below will satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your waistline. None of the recipes below are over 160 calories, providing you stick to serving sizes.

Summer berries are bursting with flavor and are packed with antioxidants that have been linked to stalling the aging process, protecting the heart and circulatory system and preventing mental decline. Mix berries into your morning yogurt, bake some into a pie or tart, experiment with savory recipes or eat them as a snack. There are so many ways to enjoy berries.

Health Benefits of Berries

When you read about all the health benefits from berries, you will want to add them to your menu everyday.

Loaded with vitamin C, blackberries also contain ellagic acid—an important phytonutrient that protects skin cells from damaging UV rays. Ellagic acid also prevents the breakdown of collagen in the skin that occurs as we age and is linked to wrinkling.

Blueberries are phytonutrient powerhouses. They contain: anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechins and salicylic acid. If the latter sounds familiar, you may recognize it as the drug we’ve come to know as Aspirin. That’s right—blueberries contain natural aspirin, but it comes in a delicious package by Mother Nature where there’s no worry about harmful side effects. What’s more, blueberries are proven to reduce proteins that are linked with some forms of brain disease, making them weapons in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as well as other neurological disorders.

Raspberries, like other berries, contain an important compound that is more effective at alleviating inflammation than aspirin. Containing the phytonutrient ellagic acid, raspberries can help protect against pollutants found in cigarette smoke and may neutralize some cancer-causing substances before they can damage healthy cells. They’re delicious on their own, in a fruit salad, in a smoothie or on top of a salad.

Not only do eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange, they are antioxidant powerhouses. Whether you want to evade heart disease, arthritis, memory loss, wrinkling or cancer, these berries have proven their ability to help. Plus, they’re just so easy to get into your diet on a regular basis.

A cross between blackberries and raspberries, Loganberries strengthen blood vessels, making them an excellent addition to help fight heart disease and developing varicose veins. They contain rutin, which research shows strengthens capillaries and improves circulation. They look like long raspberries.

Gooseberries—the berries that resemble green grapes—help you to feel happier. In recent research in the Journal of Experimental Neurobiology, scientists found that gooseberries contain a flavonoid called kaempferol that prevents the breakdown of the brain hormones, serotonin and dopamine. These brain chemicals naturally help us fight stress and keep our spirits up.

Caring For Berries

By nature, summer berries are small, soft and delicate, so cleaning and storing them is much more of a challenge than, say, a hearty melon or stone fruits.

Only rinse berries right before you use them. Water increases the likelihood they’ll start to mold.

Don’t soak: Place them in a colander and rinse water, grntly, over them instead of fully submerging them.

Give them a quick chill: You know how sun-ripened, warm berries have that delightful softness to them? Well, that is what makes them taste so good, but it’s also what makes them incredibly delicate and difficult to wash. So a good tip is to refrigerate them for an hour or so, when you bring them home from the market. They’re easier to rinse when they’ve had a chance to firm up just a bit.

After washing berries, let them rest in a colander in the refrigerator or another container that allows some air circulation. This will help them dry more quickly than if just placed in a bowl.

Avoid the crisper: Berries won’t last long, if kept in the crisper because the air has a higher humidity and doesn’t circulate as much as throughout the rest of the refrigerator.

Blackberry Sauce

This rich blackberry sauce can be a topper for almost anything — ice cream or frozen yogurt, waffles or pancakes or angel food cake are just some of the options.

This sauce is easily doubled or tripled for company.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries or raspberries
  • 4 tablespoons cranberry juice or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine berries, juice, sugar and Worcestershire. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 8 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring often and mashing berries slightly with a fork. Serve warm or cool. Makes 8 -2-tablespoon servings.

Berry Pudding Cake

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups assorted fresh berries (such as raspberries, blueberries and/or sliced strawberries)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Lightly coat six 6-ounce individual quiche dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until light and frothy. Whisk in milk until combined. Add flour and baking powder; whisk until smooth.

Divide berries among prepared quiche dishes. Pour batter over berries. (Batter will not cover berries completely.)

Bake about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm. If desired, sift a little powdered sugar over each serving.

Raspberry-Oatmeal Wedges

12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh red raspberries
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat tub-style vegetable oil spread, such as Smart Balance
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
  • Fresh raspberries , optional

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cornstarch. Add the 2 cups raspberries; toss to coat. Using a potato masher or fork, lightly mash berries; set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom or a 9-inch springform pan or line an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with foil and lightly grease the foil.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, vegetable oil spread, baking soda and cinnamon; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg white. Beat in all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour until combined. Stir in oats.

Set aside 1/2 cup of the oat mixture. Press the remaining oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or just until crust is starting to brown on the edges.

Spread raspberry mixture over partially baked crust. Crumble the reserved 1/2 cup oat mixture over the top of raspberry mixture.

Bake about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

If using the tart pan, remove side of the pan. If using the springform pan, run a thin metal spatula around the edge of the pan; remove ring. Cut into wedges to serve.

If using 8x8x2-inch baking pan, use foil to lift uncut bars from the pan; cut into bars. If desired, top individual servings with whipped topping and garnish with additional fresh raspberries.

Glazed Strawberry Pie

8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Oil Pastry for Single-Crust Pie, recipe below
  • 6 cups strawberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Few drops vegetable red food coloring
  • Fat-free frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed

Directions:

Prepare Oil Pastry for Single-Crust Pie; prick bottom and sides of pastry generously with the tines of a fork.

Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until pastry is golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Place 1 cup of the strawberries and the water in a food processor bowl. Cover; process until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan. Bring to boiling; simmer 2 minutes.

In a medium saucepan stir together sugar and cornstarch; stir in berry mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; stir in enough red food coloring to tint to a rich red color. Cool to room temperature.

Fold remaining strawberries into cooled mixture; pour into pastry shell, arranging berries so the point faces up. Cover; chill for 3 to 4 hours. Serve with whipped topping.

Oil Pastry for Single-Crust Pie

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or oil of choice)

Directions:

In a bowl stir together flour and salt. Combine milk and oil in a large measuring cup. Add milk mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until dough forms; form into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface slightly flatten dough. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Fold under extra pastry; crimp edge as desired.

Berry Ginger Shortcakes

10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons healthy butter substitute, such as Smart Balance
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute or 1 egg
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 – 28 ounce container frozen fat-free whipped dessert topping, thawed
  • 1/4 cup lowfat dairy sour cream

Directions:

In a small bowl combine the berries and the crystallized ginger. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degree F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.

To prepare shortcakes: 

In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine buttermilk and egg substitute or egg. Add to the flour mixture all at once, stirring just until mixture is moistened.

On a lightly floured surface pat the dough to 1/2-inch thickness and pat the sides into an even 10 inch square. With a sharp knife cut the dough into 10 equal sized rectangles. (You can also cut them out with a biscuit cutter, reroll the dough and cut out more biscuits. I prefer my method because it is quicker and doesn’t waste anything.)

Place shortcakes on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Cool the shortcakes slightly on a wire rack.

To serve:

In a small bowl combine the whipped topping and sour cream. Split shortcakes in half. Place bottoms on dessert plates. Divide the berry mixture among bottoms. Top each with some of the whipped topping mixture. Replace the shortcake tops.

Gluten Free Strawberry Cheese Tart

10 Servings

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups Gluten Free almond meal or flour (or grind an equal amount of almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons healthy butter substitute, such as Smart Balance, melted.

Combine almond flour, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and bake tart shell for 15 minutes or until evenly brown. Cool before filling.

Filling

  • 1 package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Beat all the ingredients together until smooth with a hand held electric beater. Set aside.

Topping

Wash and dry 4 cups of fresh strawberries. Cut in half. You may need a little more depending on their size.

1/4 cup clear jelly, such as apple, warmed in the microwave.

Assembly

Spread filling in cooled tart shell.

Arrange berries on top of filling in a circular pattern, end to end (with the rounded side of each strawberry facing the pointed end). You will have three circles and then fill in the center. Or you can make an arrangement that you like. With a pastry brush, spread a little warm jelly over each strawberry.

Chill before serving.

Mocha Cake with Berries

12 servings

Serving 1 slice cake, 2 tablespoons topping, and 2 tablespoons berries

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder or 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 egg whites
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1/2 of an 8-ounce container frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, blackberries and/or blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, the water and espresso powder. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and mixture almost boils. Stir in the chopped chocolate until melted. Remove from heat.

Place egg yolks in a small bowl. Gradually stir the chocolate mixture into egg yolks; stir in vanilla (mixture may appear slightly grainy). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, the flour and baking powder. Stir in chocolate-egg yolk mixture until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Stir a small amount of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold chocolate mixture into remaining egg whites. Spread in the prepared pan.

Bake about 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen and remove side of the pan. Cool completely. (Cake may fall slightly but evenly during cooling.)

To serve, cut cake into wedges. If desired, sprinkle dessert plates with additional cocoa powder. Transfer wedges of cake to dessert plates. Top with whipped topping and berries.

 

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